About CSK

Congregation Shaarei Kodesh is a holy community, kehillah kedoshah, affiliated with the Conservative/Masorti movement/United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.  We are an inclusive and egalitarian community. We offer a wide range of religious, educational and social activities for all ages -- from infants to seniors, and for all walks of life: singles of all ages, newlyweds, young families, empty nesters, interfaith families and same-sex couples/families. We want everyone to feel comfortable at Shaarei Kodesh, so let us know if we're missing something!  Our vision statement is, Journeying Together On A Path To Holiness.  We hope that you would consider joining us on our journey!

History

Founded in May 2004 by a group of energetic families who were looking to create a more intimate synagogue experience, Shaarei Kodesh began meeting in peoples’ homes. After several months and growing attendance, it became apparent that a larger space was needed, so we moved our services to the campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. In 2008, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh took the next big step and merged with Congregation Beth Tikvah.  Shaarei Kodesh welcomed Rabbi David Baum in 2009.  We are fortunate to have Rabbi Baum, his wife Alissa, and their three children as part of our kehillah kedoshah.

Mission and Vision

Vision - Journeying Together On A Path To Holiness

For more information about our vision, and to read a document which expands upon our vision (found below our mission).  This learning document was created by Rabbi Baum and is used as a study guide for all of those who join us on our journey.  

 

Mission

Congregation Shaarei Kodesh members work together to:

  • Create positive, meaningful, participatory experiences of prayer, celebration and learning
  • Cultivate attitudes of reverence, humility and gratitude toward both God and God’s creations.
  • Build a kehillah kedoshah – a holy community, where members help and support each other and join together in times of joy and times of need.
  • Promote a strong commitment to Israel and Judaism.
  • Participate in repairing the world, tikkun olam, through social action programs.

Vision with Commentary

Congregation Shaarei Kodesh

Document Created by Rabbi David Baum

This document is meant to be studied in pairs (chevrutah) or with a larger group in a house meeting, although one can study this alone as well.

מהלכים ביחד לדרך קדושה

        Journeying Together On a Path To Holiness

 

Leviticus 19:1 - 2

וַיְדַבֵּר יְקֹוָק אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

דַּבֵּר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְקֹוָק אֱלֹ-הֵיכֶם

 

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the ENTIRE Israelite community and say to them: You MUST be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

 

Journeying...מהלכים

(א) וַיֹּאמֶר יְקֹוָק אֶל־אַבְרָם לֶךְ־לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ:

The Lord said to Avram: Go forth from your land, your birth place, your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Genesis 12:1

We are a people of journeys beginning with our father Abraham, who was living a seemingly normal life until receiving a Divine call. Journeys also connect us to our past, our ancestors. Journeys are unique not only to a generation, but to the individual. Our Rabbis looked at the words, Lech Lecha, Go forth, as a challenge to look inward: “Go forth to find your authentic self, to learn who you are meant to be” (Mei Ha-Shiloah). Once we look inward, once we know ourselves, then we can know each other, and ultimately, begin the journey to the center--to God. At Shaarei Kodesh, we encourage our congregants and provide opportunities to journey both inward and outward.

Like his grandfather Abraham, our father Jacob went on his own journey. At the beginning of his journey, as he is lost, and scared, he has an experience: he sleeps at a place called Luz and sees angels going up and down. At the end of his dream, when he wakes up, he re-names this place Beit El, the House of God, and famously says, Surely God was in this place and I did not know it- Bereshit 28:17

Our hope is that each soul that is a part of our holy community finds God, in whatever way they can, and they add to our collective journey to holiness.

  • Tell the story of the journey(s) that have led you here to Shaarei Kodesh, to this holy community?

  • Please share a story/experience at CSK that answers the question: what keeps you here at Congregation Shaarei Kodesh?

Together... ביחד

...הלל אומר: אל תפרוש מן הצבור

Do not separate yourself from the community” - The Ethics of Our Fathers 2:4

Margaret Meade famously said, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

We are first and foremost, a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community. God asks Moses (Leviticus 19:1-2) to speak to the entire community, informing each of us that we shall be holy; it's our destiny. But it's not 'shall', it's must! God does not ask us to be holy, rather God challenges us to strive for holiness, a process that requires work. We MUST be holy, and we must continually work toward this goal, 'together'. In order to build a holy community, we need the entire congregation to be 'together'. At Congregation Shaarei Kodesh, each person is valued, from our newborns to our seniors; and we strive to connect with each other on a deeper level than in other places in society – that is just one of the ways in which we are holy.

 

Our ‘togetherness’ manifests itself in our egalitarian prayer services, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said, Jewish prayer is not an I – Thou, but a We – Thou – we connect to God together. Our 'togetherness' also manifests itself in our governance, in our inclusiveness to Jews regardless of gender, sexual orientation, color, etc. We welcome interfaith families and those who are on a path of conversion, seeking to become part of the collective Jewish family.

On a Path... לדרך

Judah Halevi (also Yehuda Halevi or ha-Levi; Hebrew: יהודה הלוי; Arabic: يهوذا اللاوي; c. 1075 – 1141) Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher.

יוֹם נכְסְפָה נַפְשׁי לְבֵית הַוַעַד,

וַיֹאחֲזֵנִי לַנְּדוּדִים רַעַד,

סִבֵּב גְּדָל–עֵצָה עֲלִילוֹת לַנְּדֹד,

וָאֶמְצְאָה לִשְׁמוֹ בְּלִבִּי סַעַד.

עַל כֵּן אֲנִי מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה אֵלָיו בְּכָל

מַסָּע, ואוֹדֶנּוּ עֲלֵי כָל צַעַד.  

I longed to reach the House of Destiny;

but fear of travel shook me with dismay

Then God provided opportunity

God’s Name within my heart lent me its aid.

And so I bow to God at every stage

give thanks for every step along the way.1

1 Raymond Scheindlin, Song of the Distant Dove, pages 216-219

 Translation of God is gender neutral, but the original uses the pronoun He.  

The epigram places the pilgrim at the very beginning of the journey, when the impulse to defer or cancel the whole venture has been overcome and the first step has been taken.”

Question:

In this text, the ‘house of destiny’ is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Since the destruction of the Temple, we have lost our central place, but it is said that our batei knesset, our synagogues, are our new ‘houses of destiny’ or in Hebrew, Mikdash Me’at, small Midkash. We all have our small holy places, for example, our dining rooms where we share holiday meals. At Shaarei Kodesh, not only do we want you to find holiness when and where we as a community gather together, but we also strive to help each household find their own holy spaces and times.

  • What is your ‘house of destiny’?
  • Tell the story of why it is special and holy to you.

  • What is our ‘collective’ path? Are we part of something greater?

There’s an old adage, “The hardest part of any journey is taking that first step.” In fact, this was how we truly began as a people, by taking those first steps towards God’s Torah. The midrash famously says that Bnai Israel accepted the Torah before they knew what was is in it, quoting the words from Torah, נעשה ונשמה, we will do, and then, we will listen. This refers to the mitzvoth, the commandments, but there is another way to translate mitzvah: as connection. Each mitzvah is a stepping stone on the path of Jewish life.

The name "halakha" is derived from the Hebrew halakh (הָלַךְ) meaning "to walk" or "to go". Taken literally, therefore, "halakha" translates as "the way to go" rather than "law". Our commitment to Jewish law, Halachah, informs how we 'walk' in the world, but we walk on this path informed by our story, Aggadah.
 

As a people, we are forever searching to journey to the center, to God, but this journey is not easy. It is filled with fear of the unknown, a fear that whispers in our ears, ‘is this the right path for me!?!’ But when we take these first steps as pilgrims on a journey, we experience God through our actions, the mitzvoth, our prayers, our hopes and dreams and through those that surround us, we realize that God has been with us the entire time, in our hearts, giving us the confidence to continue.

Our congregation is affiliated with the Conservative movement of Judaism, the centrist movement in Judaism that holds onto the beauty and richness of our tradition while also embracing modernity in order to make Judaism continually relevant. At Shaarei Kodesh, we strive to make the old new, and the new holy through our innovative spiritual and religious programming, our worship modalities, Jewish education and experience for people of all ages. Rather than choose an extreme side, we stand in the middle, ready to grab the hands of those beside us, to help bring them in to the center.

Read more about Conservative Judaism:

The Sacred Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism” by Rabbi Ismar Schorsch Emet V’Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism

To Holiness - ק.ד.ש

“The old shall be renewed, and the new shall be made holy.” (Rabbi Avraham Kook, Letters vol. I, p. 214)

Hebrew words are based on three letter roots; ‘holy’ is made of up three letters kuf/dalet/shin. Versions of this word can be found throughout the journeys of our lives: when friends and family gather for Shabbat dinners, we sanctify the day with the kiddish קידוש over the wine; when Jews marry, they enter into Kiddushin קידושין, a holy relationship; when a loved one transitions to the world to come, we honor their memories by reciting a prayer called the kaddish קדש. We strive to create a space where we can make the old new, and the new holy. The imperative to build this ‘space’ came to our ancestors thousands of years ago, when God commanded us:

וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃ Build me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8). God says ‘them’ not ‘it’ for a reason; because God dwells in our hearts. We gather together in a space, but the space doesn't make us holy, we make the space holy.

  • Share a time when you felt ‘holy’ or ‘holiness’. Where were you, who were you with, etc.

One of the most popular phrases in Jewish tradition is לְדוֹר ודוֹר, often translated as, ‘from generation to generation’, but a more accurate translation would be, forever. As Jews, we strive for immortality, for our people to live on. To achieve our people’s immortality, each generation must take on the mantle of the previous, and then, pass it on to the next. However, in order to truly ‘take hold of Torah’, we must make it our own, making it relevant to our lives today. This is part of our vision - to make the old new, and the new holy. To take on this task, we must force ourselves to dream of different interpretations to seemingly outdated practices and laws. As Jews, we are used to dreaming, from Jacob to Joseph to Honi the Circle Drawer to Theodore Herzl - our dreams have made us who we are today!

  • What are the most enduring Jewish lessons from your parents or grandparents?

  • What are your dreams? How will you make these dreams a reality here? What are some of your talents that you can share with our holy community?

Thursday, May 25 2017 29 Iyyar 5777